Saturday, October 06, 2012

Ideas and Institutions

The question, in a broader sense, involves the general problem of the relation between ideas and institutions. This problem appears in both materialistic and idealistic historical research and historical judgment. In particular it is a problem of general history: whether a new progressive motive, along with its necessary polemics against the old, must not nevertheless be intertwined with a residue of the old, insofar as the fertility and developmental power of the residue cannot be dispensed with. In the very mind which brings forth the new motive, the aftereffect of the institution which is to be fought lingers on. In this development the old motive preserves its right in the new one; it retains its share in the development toward the new one. Thus the new idea remains connected with the old one even then, when it does not entirely eliminate the old institution, but only transforms it.

Cohen, Religion of Reason Out of the Sources of Judaism (Scholars Press, 1995) pp. 175-176.

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